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Brain tumour researchers at the University of Portsmouth received a massive boost today with a cash injection of over £500K. It will help secure the future of cancer research at the University which has the UK’s first dedicated laboratory-based brain tumour research centre.
Childhood brain tumour research charities, Ali’s Dream and Charlie’s Challenge, have jointly committed £400,000 and Brain Tumour Research, which represents a consortium of brain tumour charities and other partners, has committed a further £100,000. The money will enable the University to undertake further dedicated brain tumour research.
Brain tumours are the most lethal and devastating tumours. They are the most common cause of death in children after accidents and the most common form of cancer in people under 40 but brain tumour research receives less than 1 per cent (0.7%) of national cancer research spending in the UK.
The £500K funding will pay for a further four research posts at the university to pursue crucial research into the killer disease in both adults and children. They will work under the guidance of Geoff Pilkington, Professor of neuro-oncology.
Professor Pilkington said: “Currently a disproportionate amount of UK research funding is channelled into leukaemia and the more pervasive cancers such as breast and prostate. We need to significantly increase the level of funding that goes into brain tumour research.
“Continuity of research programmes is essential if we are to secure the critical biological knowledge to under-pin the development of successful treatments and turn round the fortunes of those diagnosed with a brain tumour. The generous funding from the Brain Tumour Research member charities will help ensure that the long-term aim to find a cure for brain tumours is maintained and secured.”
Sue Farrington Smith, Director of Brain Tumour Research, said: “We would like to see a commitment from the newly-elected Government to help establish a working group to review how UK cancer research funding is allocated across different disease types.”
Julie Phelan, set up the charity, Ali’s Dream, along with family and friends, following the loss of her daughter, Alison, three weeks before her eighth birthday in 2001. She said:
“People with brain tumours rarely survive – the number of young adults and children who die is scary compared with other cancers, but the brain tumour world is let down by lack of funding as it is a relatively rare cancer.
“I am determined to see brain tumour charities having the same voice as the big charities – we need to be heard and to be taken seriously.”
Professor Pilkington said: “The work my colleagues and I are doing in the laboratory will eventually result in benefits for patients. These real people who are desperate for a cure provide a firm focus for our sustained research efforts.”
The University of Portsmouth has four oncology researchers graduating with PhDs this summer – more than the rest of the UK produces on average in two years.